Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Can we ever expect to reach sustainability

Last Thursday we had another meeting with members of the OSS-Watch team, this time the topic for conversation was specifically sustainability. Prior to OSS-Watch coming Ross blogged about the meeting and whether it was viable to build a community to support the project in such a short time.

The meeting proved to raise some interesting opinions from those who attended. One point that came over very clearly is the relationship of project success to project funding. I think that keeping a project ticking over once the funding has finished should not necessarily be a drain on any finances that are around. At the same time the original funding source should not leave the project high and dry. The funders should enable a more sustainable out come to be reached, in the sort term this may require continuation funding. I do accept though that funding can not go on forever and projects have to succeed for themselves if they are to survive.

Another point which was strongly made was that of reputation. This again is a crucial aspect of any project and does not just effect the institution, but also the possibility of gaining more adopters. Here they would like to continue to build on the developing reputation around the WebPA project. Again the but, if there is no clear sustainability plan past the funding, then we could be risking the reputation we are developing.

In all I have learnt that sustainability seems to be a double edged knife. Every action that we take or directions which we go in, can have a dramatic impact on the project, during its life cycle, but also in the long term. Really sustainability needs to have been built in from the beginning, with both success and exit strategies, but hindsight is a wonderful thing...


rgardler said...

I completely agree that sustainability needs to be built in from the beginning. OSS Watch are here to help projects consider sustainability through open source from the point of bid writing onwards. The earlier a project comes to us, the earlier one can plan for sustainability.

Nic said...

Its good to know that some one is in agreement, but it really is a shame that other project within the JISC follow the stereo typical format of releasing as open source at the end of the project funding as with three projects funded under the assessment strand of the same funding stream as we have been.